Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
According to legend, The term Acadiana was born by a twist of fate in the early 1960s, when KATC TV in Lafayette, owned by the Acadian Television Corporation , received an invoice with an error that turned "Acadian" into "Acadiana". Station management found it fitting, and began using the new word to describe the region covered by its broadcast signal.
While not having an exact definition at the time, "Acadiana" came to be associated with the southern Louisiana region that was home to a large population of the descendants of the original Acadians deposed by the British in 1755 from what is now Nova Scotia.
In 1971 the Louisiana state legislature officially recognized the area for its unique Cajun and Acadian heritage (Louisiana House Concurrent Resolution No. 496), and made Acadiana the official name of the 22-parish region. In the short period from its birth to the present, the word "Acadiana" has become a part of the culture, and an identifiable icon.
Despite the frequent association of Cajuns with swamplands, Acadiana actually consists mainly of prairies, marshes, and wooded river (or bayou) lands.
The term "Acadiana" refers to the area from just east of New Orleans to the Texas border, and about 100 miles inland to Marksville. This includes the parishes of Avoyelles, Evangeline, St. Landry, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, Calcasieu, Jeff Davis, Acadia, Lafayette, St. Martin, Iberville, Ascension, St. James, St. John The Baptist, St. Charles, Cameron, Vermilion, Iberia, St. Mary, Assumption, Terrebonne, and Lafourche.
The term "Acadiana" often is mistakenly applied only to the central parishes of the region, Lafayette, St. Martin, Acadia, Iberia, St. Landry, Evangeline, Vermilion, and St. Mary. These parishes are officially known as "Cajun Heartland USA".
The traditional industries of the area; tourism, agriculture, and petroleum initially drove the need for transportation development. In recent years, hurricane evacuation plans for the area's growing towns and cities have hastened the planning and construction of better roadways. The terrain of Acadiana ranges from low gentle hills in the plains of the north section, to the dangerous swamps and marshes of the coastal parishes. This has always made Acadiana difficult to access, and was a major reason for the near isolation of the Cajun people until oil was found in the area in the early 1900s.
High capacity, modern highways are the lifeline of the region. US Highways 90, 190, and 167 (now partially replaced by I-49) were the main connectors through south Louisiana until the 1950s. Interstates 10, 55, and 49 now play the major role in transportation. US and state highways also cross the region.
Rail transport through the area is limited by the difficult terrain and the sheer number of bridges required to build over every little stream and bayou. A robust railroad system was being built at the time of the American Civil War, but much of it was destroyed during the conflict. By the end of the war, river transport via paddlewheeler had taken over as the preffered mode of travel. The major railway in operation through the region is the Southern Pacific Railroad, now part of the Union Pacific Railroad.
Major waterways are vital to the commercial and recreational activities of the region. Seaports, rivers, lakes, bayous, canals, and spillways dot the landscape, and served as the primary source of shipping and travel through the early 1930s. The Mississippi River is important to the eastern section, the Atchafalya wetlands to the middle, with Lake Charles and the Sabine river enabling shipping traffic to the western portion. Fresh and saltwater lakes, along with almost the entire Louisiana portion of the Intracoastal Waterway, enable the flow of people and materials
The area's larger airports in Houma, Lafayette, and Lake Charles provide regional leisure travel. Most air travel in the area, not counting the extreme amount of flyover traffic from hubs like New Orleans and Houston, is local in nature and provided by small planes and helicopters. Many hours of flight time is logged by helicopter pilots servicing the oilfields in the Gulf of Mexico. Small planes are used for short trips and agricultural needs. There are small regional airports seving communities throughout the area.
Contrary to the myths, Acadians are not necessarily "swamp" people. Much of the region is characterized by swamps and bayous but Acadians also settled in the prairies west and north of Lafayette. Most of the region north of Interstate 10 is relatively dry land.
Not everybody who lives in Acadiana is culturally Acadian or speaks the Acadian dialect of the French language, nor is everybody who is culturally Acadian or "Cajun" descended from the Acadian refugees. Acadian French is only spoken as a mother tongue in rural areas, with cities such as Lafayette and Houma being mainly anglophone. In some more assimilated areas where the Acadian language was lost due to government schooling and social forces, there is a growing popularity of learning Acadian French as a second language.
The peculiar accent spoken in the region tends to be uniform regardless of ethnicity.
In addition to the Acadians, Acadiana is home to several Native American tribes and two other unique languages and subcultures: enclaves of black speakers of French- or Spanish-based Creole languages.
German settlers also found their way to Acadiana during the 19th century. More recently, political refugees from southeast Asia (Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, among others) have brought their families, cultures, and languages to the area fishing industry.
Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D., and Kara T. Bernard, The Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture, cajunculture.com, s.v. "Acadiana".
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details